McGinlay ridicules delays: Call for return of fortnightly meetings as Shire goes online

A councillor has slammed a seven-week gap between Eurobodalla Shire meetings as "ridiculous".

Green Pat McGinlay said the shire was in "a critical period, with COVID-19 on top of bushfire recovery".

"It's coming close to the end of the financial year where we talk about the budget, rate increases, fee charge increases and the Mackay Park project," he said.

"We should be meeting once a fortnight, rather than have this ridiculous seven-week gap."

On March 24, councillors agreed to meet monthly until July due to COVID-19.

The next day, the NSW Government said councils could meet remotely.

The video-conference platform, Zoom, was used on April 7, but the council has not sat since.

Cr McGinlay prepared and gave notice of an urgent notice of motion to discuss the schedule at that meeting, but it was not heard.

At the next council meeting on Zoom, councillor Pat McGinlay will request more meetings to be scheduled. He said the seven-week gap between meetings was "ridiculous".

At the next council meeting on Zoom, councillor Pat McGinlay will request more meetings to be scheduled. He said the seven-week gap between meetings was "ridiculous".

"I told all my fellow councillors, the mayor, general manager and senior staff before April 7 that I was going to bring out an urgent motion to reverse what was said (on March 24)," Cr McGinlay said.

Cr McGinlay said he put in a formal notice of motion for the next meeting, due May 26.

At that meeting, both Councillor Anthony Mayne and Cr McGinlay want fortnightly meetings reinstated.

General manager Dr Catherine Dale said the meeting schedule was on the May 26 agenda.

"The recommendation is that twice monthly meetings resume from 23rd of June," Dr Dale said.

"Now that local government elections have been shifted to September 2021, meeting dates can also be set for August and September.

"If the recommended schedule is adopted, 17 council meetings will have been conducted by the end of the year, one less than last year, and still more than required under the Local Government Act."

Cr Lindsay Brown believed the system was working.

"The council has the capacity to meet on any matter on short notice should it be urgent," he said.

"I am yet to see where a matter had not been dealt with on time. The community still has the opportunity to electronically engage with councillors if they feel necessary."

Cr Brown, who is immune suppressed, said staff also faced a steep workload due to bushfires and COVID-19. He said the community was understanding during the "extraordinary times".

"The community I speak to are very complimentary to council and its response over the last several months, totally understand the difficulty council has in delivering services and do not see meeting scheduled as a high priority," Cr Brown said.

Public forum sessions, where residents address councillors on agenda items, were continued before each council meeting.

Dr Dale said councillors had only received written submissions as presenters have not yet chosen to appear via Zoom.

Public access sessions, where speakers address councillors on any topic, Dr Dale says will be "recommended to resume from June 16".

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